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Abstract

Much has been said and written about humor that disparages, belittles, debases, demeans, humiliates, or otherwise victimizes. A myriad of observations and opinions on the subject eventually found expression in theoretical proposals, and these proposals have been reviewed in considerable detail (e.g., Berlyne, 1969; Keith-Spiegel, 1972). The research efforts spawned by the proposals, together with theoretical advances and refinements suggested or demanded by the findings, also have been detailed and summarized (e.g., La Fave, 1972; Zillmann & Cantor, 1976). Obviously, there is little merit in restating the various theoretical views and in rehashing research findings that have been reported repeatedly already. This chapter, consequently, traces the evolution of disparagement theory in its essentials only and then focuses on new developments, both theoretical and empirical, that have occurred since the publication of the reviews in the early and mid-seventies. More specifically, extensions of theoretical approaches to disparagement humor are reported and the generality and specificity of these approaches is assessed. Efforts at integrating disparagement theory with other approaches to humor are reported. New findings concerning the ontogeny of mirthful reactions to disparagement are discussed. Finally, the discontent with the “incompleteness” of disparagement-centered theories of humor is detailed, and recent efforts at removing the apparent incompleteness of older models in the construction of more integrative theories are described. Much attention is given to the issue of converting the potential enjoyment of disparagement into amusement.

Keywords

Identification Class Experimental Social Psychology Positive Disposition Negative Disposition Negative Sentiment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dolf Zillmann

There are no affiliations available

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